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Last updated on: November 28th, 2017
Commercial log splitters have been used for years to cut high volumes of wood. These machines are no longer only for professionals – you can use a home version of the same equipment in your yard for a variety of projects. Using a log splitter will save you tons of time. They are also significantly easier to use than cutting wood by hand so you can get more done in the time you have with less effort.
Read on to learn how to operate your log splitter safely and efficiently in two simple steps.
What is a Log Splitter Used For?
As the name suggests, this piece of equipment is used to cut logs into smaller segments. Once large logs have been cut into more manageable round sections, the log splitter is used to reduce the section into pieces that can then be easily used. Splitters can be used on either soft or hard wood as long as the log has been pre-cut into rounds. Do you know what are the main log splitter benefits?
Most often home log splitters are used to cut firewood. Whether you heat your house or you want to build a bonfire, log splitters drastically reduce the amount of work you need to do in order to get firewood.
Kinds of Log Splitters
The type of log splitter you have will affect how it is used and the size of rounds you can process. There are three types to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. When you are choosing which type of log splitter to use, you’ll notice each type has a different rating in terms of how much pressure the machine generates. A higher value for the pressure means the splitter can handle larger rounds.
1 – Manual Log Splitter
This is the classic style of log splitter. It is powered by hand and is best for people who plan to use their splitter occasionally for fairly small rounds. Some styles are operated using a foot pedal, but whether or not there is a foot gear manual splitters are still easier and faster than using an ax.
Generally, manual splitters have the lowest pressure rating out of all the types of splitters. Since this machine is powered by one person, it makes sense that it cannot handle the same size logs as a powered splitter.
There are some versions of a manual log splitter that include hydraulic pumps or weights that drive the wedge into the wood. These are still technically manual splitters due to the fact that manpower is required to operate the machine.
2 – Gas Log Splitter
The gas powered splitter has the most power and most often has the highest pressure rating. This kind of splitter can manage larger sections of wood and does not need to be plugged in. As a result, the user is not limited in regards to where the machine can be placed.
However, gas splitters are also the most expensive option. In addition to paying a higher ticket price for the machine, there is also the cost of the gas and maintenance fees such as oil changes.
3 – Electric Log Splitter
For a splitter that is suitable in almost every situation, the electric splitter is the best choice. This type of splitter usually has a mid-range pressure rating so it can handle larger rounds than a manual splitter, but it is not as powerful as a gas splitter.
This splitter is powered by electricity, so it needs to be plugged in while it is in use. While this limits the area in which it can be used, electric splitters are lighter and smaller than gas splitters. This makes them much more portable and easier to store.
How to Use a Log Splitter
It is crucial to use caution when operating your log splitter, regardless of which type of splitter you have. Log splitters are extremely easy to use, but a mistake can cause serious injury. Always pay attention to what you are doing and focus on the task at hand.
Follow these two simple steps to properly use your log splitter.
Step 1 – Get Set Up
This step applies to both you and your machine. Before you turn on your splitter, make sure you have all the equipment you need to keep yourself safe, including:
- closed -toe shoes or boots,
- protective eyewear,
- heavy duty gloves,
- long pants.
Be sure to remove any jewelry before you start. Items like rings and watches could potentially get caught in the machine. The same goes for loose clothing.
Eyewear such as goggles are necessary since wood chips tend to fly off the logs when they are being split.
Now that you have yourself ready, it is time to set up the splitter. Choose an area that is open and free from clutter such as other tools or garden equipment. Make sure the wood you want to split is close by, but not in a place where you will trip over it.
Set up the splitter on something level. A paved area is preferable since you know it is even, but it is safe to set up on grass as long as it is flat. The splitter needs to be sturdy so that it won’t tip over while you are feeding logs into it.
When the splitter is in place it is a good idea to place bricks or cinder blocks around the wheels. This prevents the machine from rolling when the wedge moves.
Tip: Make sure you set up your splitter on dry ground. Wet ground is a problem for all sorts of splitters, not just electric ones. You are much more likely to slip on wet ground than dry.
To stay organized, aim the side of the splitter that the finished pieces come out of towards the area where you will stack your firewood. The other side is where the logs enter into the splitter and should be facing the pile of logs you’ll be splitting. This kind of setup allows you to move the finished logs out of the way immediately, which prevents a build up of clutter around the splitter. It also means you’ll have to carry the completed pieces a shorter distance.
Tip: For electric splitters be sure to put the cord somewhere that you won’t trip over it. Ideally, it should lead out of the back of the splitter directly toward the plugin. If you find it difficult to see the cord while you are working, wrap sections of it in brightly colored electrical tape.
Step 2 – Split Your Logs
This is where the type of splitter you have will impact how you use it. Manual splitters require a slightly different process than powered splitters.
Tip: Until you get used to how the machine works, go slowly. As you get more comfortable with the equipment you’ll be able to go faster.
Manual Log Splitters:
Before you can use a manual splitter you need to make sure the jack is tight. Insert the log into the jack and tighten the screw. This prevents the log from moving when you set the cylinder with the wedge on it into place. If this part is loose the log may fall out, or only be partially split.
Once the log is secure, operate the machine by hand (or using the foot pedal if you have one) to move the wedge into the log. Continue to work the machine until the log is split. Make sure your hands are out of the way of the wedge before you start splitting.
To remove the log, pull the cylinder back to the starting position. Loosen the screw on the jack, and remove the pieces. You can now repeat this step for the rest of your logs.
Tip: If there are any pieces of rounds that have squared ends, cut the end off with an ax before you try to load it into the splitter. The splitter is designed to cut sections with flat ends, and a different shape could cause the machine to malfunction. Also, remove any stray twigs from the sections you’ll be cutting. This prevents them from being caught or snagged in the machine.
Powered Log Splitters:
If you have a gas powered splitter, be sure that the machine has enough gas and hydraulic oil to complete the job. Turn the machine on, and select your first log.
Position the log so that it sits on the wedge. Split the log by activating the wedge. Some machines have a gear that is turned using a lever, while others have a button. Once the log is split, set the handle into reverse to pull back the wedge. Remove the pieces and repeat.
Tip: No matter what type of machine you have it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different parts before you use it for the first time. Locate parts such as the power button and exhaust pipe so you aren’t taken by surprise when it is in use.
Remember to only split one log at a time. Attempting to split more than one log at a time is dangerous, and will likely result in injury. As well, there should only be one person operating the machine at any given time. The same person who places the wood in the splitter should be in control of moving the wedge.